Encyclopedia Astronautica
McNair



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McNair
Credit: www.spacefacts.de - www.spacefacts.de
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STS-41-B
Astronauts McNair and Stewart prepare for re-entry
Credit: NASA
McNair, Dr Ronald Erwin (1950-1986) African-American physicist mission specialist astronaut. Flew on STS-41-B, STS-51-L. Died in Challenger accident.

The first American black astronaut to fly in space, willing to poke fun at NASA in the days before political correctness. At the party thrown by TFNG astronauts at the end of their first summer of training, McNair took part in a skit with Judy Resnik and an unnamed white astronaut. Putting their respective arms and face through a white backdrop with an astronaut jumpsuit attached, they portrayed NASA's ideal astronaut candidate - part black, part white, part woman.

Official NASA Biography:

Ronald E. McNair was born on October 21, 1950 in Lake City, South Carolina. McNair was the son of Carl C. McNair, Sr., and Pearl M. McNair. He achieved early success in the segregated public schools he attended as both a student and an athlete. Valedictorian of his high school class, he attended North Carolina A&T State University where in 1971 he received a B.S. degree in physics. He went on to study physics at MIT, where he specialized in quantum electronics and laser technology, completing his Ph.D. in 1977. As a student he performed some of the earliest work on chemical HF/DF and high pressure CO lasers, publishing pathbreaking scientific papers on the subject.

McNair was also a physical fitness advocate and pursued athletic training from an early age. He was a leader in track and football at his high school. He also became a black belt in Karate, and while in graduate school began offering classes at St. Paul's AME Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also participated in several Karate tournaments, taking more than 30 trophies in these competitions. While involved in these activities McNair met and married Cheryl B. Moore of Brooklyn, New York, and they later had two children. After completing his Ph.D. he began working as a physicist at the Optical Physics Department of Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California, and conducted research on electro-optic laser modulation for satellite-to-satellite space communications.

This research led McNair into close contact with the space program for the first time, and when the opportunity presented itself he applied for astronaut training. In January 1978 NASA selected him to enter the astronaut cadre, one of the first three Black Americans selected. McNair became the second Black American in space between Febrary 3 and 11, 1984, by flying on the Challenger Shuttle mission STS-41-B. During this mission McNair operated the maneuverable arm built by Canada used to move payloads in space. The 1986 mission on which he was killed was his second Shuttle flight.

Characteristics

Departed Date: 1986-01-28. Cause of Death: Challenger explosion.. Degree: PhD. Marital Status: Married. Children: Two children. Education: NC State;MIT.

Birth Place: African, South Carolina.
Status: Deceased.


Born: 1950.10.21.
Died: 1986.01.28.
Spaceflights: 2 .
Total time in space: 7.97 days.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • NASA Group 8 - 1978 Requirement: pilot, engineer, and scientist astronauts for space shuttle flights. Recruit women and minorities to introduce diversity into the astronaut corps. Nickname: TFNG - Thirty-Five New Guys, also an obscene military phrase. More...

Associated Flights
  • STS-41-B Crew: Brand, Gibson, McCandless, McNair, Stewart. First untethered space walk. First shuttle landing at Kennedy Space Center. Manned five crew. Deployed Westar 6, Palapa B2; tested Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). O-ring erosion in both the right hand nozzle joint and the left SRB forward field joint. More...
  • STS-51-L Crew: Jarvis, McAuliffe, McNair, Onizuka, Resnik, Scobee, Smith. First shuttle launch from pad LC-39B. An O-ring failure in a solid rocket booster led to leaking of hot gases against the external tank; exploded 73 seconds after launch, all seven crew, with no means of escape, were killed when crew cabin hit the ocean. More...

Associated Programs
  • STS The Space Transportation System (Space Shuttle) was conceived originally as a completely reusable system that would provide cheap, routine access to space and replace all American and civilian military launch vehicles. Crippled by technological overreach, political compromise, and budget limitations, it instead ended up costing more than the expendable rockets it was to have replaced. STS sucked the money out of all other NASA projects for half a century. The military abandoned its use after the Challenger shuttle explosion in the 1980's. More...

Bibliography
  • NASA Astronaut Biographies, Johnson Space Center, NASA, 1995-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Mullane, Mike, Riding Rockets, Scribner, New York, 2006.

McNair Chronology


1978 January 16 - .
  • NASA Astronaut Training Group 8 selected. - . Nation: USA. Related Persons: Bluford; Brandenstein; Buchli; Coats; Covey; Creighton; Fabian; Fisher; Gardner; Gibson; Gregory; Griggs; Hart; Hauck; Hawley; Hoffman; Lucid; McBride; McNair; Mullane; Nagel; Nelson; Onizuka; Resnik; Ride; Scobee; Seddon; Shaw; Shriver; Stewart; Sullivan. The group was selected to provide pilot, engineer, and scientist astronauts for space shuttle flights. Recruit women and minorities to introduce diversity into the astronaut corps. Qualifications: Pilots: Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics. Advanced degree desirable. At least 1,000 flight-hours of pilot-in-command time. Flight test experience desirable. Excellent health. Vision minimum 20/50 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20 vision; maximum sitting blood pressure 140/90. Height between 163 and 193 cm.

    Mission Specialists: Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics and minimum three years of related experience or an advanced degree. Vision minimum 20/150 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20. Maximum sitting blood pressure of 140/90. Height between 150 and 193 cm.. 8,079 applicants, of which half met the basic qualifications. 208 invited for physical tests and interviews. Of the 35 selected, six were women, three were male African-Americans, and one was a male Asian-American.


1984 February 3 - . 13:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39A. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-11/41-B.
  • STS-41-B - . Call Sign: Challenger. Crew: Brand; Gibson; McCandless; McNair; Stewart. Payload: Challenger F04 / SPAS 1A. Mass: 15,362 kg (33,867 lb). Nation: USA. Related Persons: Brand; Gibson; McCandless; McNair; Stewart. Agency: NASA Houston. Program: STS. Class: Manned. Type: Manned spaceplane. Flight: STS-41-B. Spacecraft: Challenger. Duration: 7.97 days. Decay Date: 1984-02-11 . USAF Sat Cat: 14681 . COSPAR: 1984-011A. Apogee: 316 km (196 mi). Perigee: 307 km (190 mi). Inclination: 28.5000 deg. Period: 90.80 min. Manned five crew. Deployed Westar 6, Palapa B2; tested Manned Maneuvering Unit (MMU). Payloads: PALAPA-B2 (Indonesian communications satellite) with Payload Assist Module (PAM)-D and WESTAR (Western Union communications satellite)-Vl with PAM-D. Both satellites were deployed but the PAM-D in each satellite failed to ignite, leaving both satellites in earth orbit. Both satellites were retrieved and returned to earth for renovation on the STS-51-A mission. The manned maneuvering unit (MMU) was tested with extravehicular astronauts as free flyers without tethers as far as 98 m from the orbiter. Shuttle Pallet Satellite (SPAS)-01 experiments, Monodisperse Latex Reactor (MLR), Isoelectric Focusing Experiment (lEF), Acoustic Containerless Experiment System (ACES), Cinema 360 cameras, five getaway specials (GAS), Aerodynamic Coefficient Identification (ACIP)/High Resolution Accelerom-eter Package (HIRAP).

1984 February 11 - .
1986 January 28 - . 16:38 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC39B. LV Family: Shuttle. Launch Vehicle: Shuttle. LV Configuration: Space Shuttle STS-33/51-L. FAILURE: Seal on SRB failed, allowed hot gas to burn through External Tank.. Failed Stage: 0.
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